The Jakarta Post
In a rare display of common sense, countries of the world are expressing their confidence in science. From Charles, the Prince of Wales, to US President Barack Obama, from Russian President Vladimir Putin to Chinese President Xi Jinping, all are professing their belief that unless the countries of the world agree to cap the rise of the earth's surface temperature to no more than 2Â° Celsius, we are heading toward planetary doom.
In his speech to the climate talks in Paris at COP21 last week, Obama, to the chagrin of climate change deniers back home, declared mea culpa by saying that the US recognized its role in creating climate change and vowed greater efforts in solving the issue. China also displayed a rare show in Paris. After years of intransigence, it is finally cleaning up its act by making big promises: to cap carbon emissions by 2030, to cut carbon intensity by a fifth and to increase by a fifth the electricity generated from sources other than fossil fuels. India, the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, has announced a plan to invest more in solar energy.
During the course of the negotiations, Indonesia, another major polluter, also branded itself as progressive by pledging to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 29 percent by 2030, an increase from the 26 percent promise made by then president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in Copenhagen in 2009.
On numerous occasions, Indonesian negotiators in Paris blamed developed nations for not being progressive enough. The Indonesian delegation, for instance, wanted a review mechanism that would force developed nations to account for their climate change mitigation efforts. Our delegation in Paris also made no effort to hide its displeasure toward Saudi Arabia, Russia, Venezuela and other oil-producing countries for blocking talks aimed at arriving at an agreement to reach the 2-degree target.
It could have been more than grandstanding had we not carried so much baggage into the negotiations. Outside the negotiation rooms, and especially at the NGO event, we continued to face questions regarding forest and peatland fires, the daily emissions of which recently equaled the average carbon output of the entire US economy.
In almost every sideline event, members of the Indonesian delegation faced tough questioning on what the government had done about the fires. Others questioned our rate of deforestation and the freedom that we have given to palm oil companies to run their businesses at the expense of the country's forests.
In his speech at COP21, President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo did not give details about how we would achieve the climate goals either, especially as his energy plan includes the development of power plants that would generate an additional 35,000 megawatts of electricity, of which 57 percent will come from coal and only 5.7 percent from clean and renewable energy.
After one week negotiating with rich countries, Indonesia's key negotiator, Rachmat Witoelar, said in frustration that the future of the world could be at risk if countries continued doing business as usual. Has it not been business as usual for us?
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